Tribute to Venus Carmichael

Leave a comment

In the Studio

Kelly and I had a good recording session last Thursday in the studio with Duncan at Substation, Rosyth. Tribute to Venus is very well served for photographers – Kelly’s partner, Scott Louden, is a pro (his website is here) but on Thursday, it was the turn of my wife, Alison, to roam the studio while recording was in progress. 7 tracks down so far; 3 (and with luck one more) tonight!

020 026 028 033 034 037 047 051


Leave a comment

Saturday 1st October: the guitars

OK, so some of you won’t be so interested in the means of producing the music as what it sounds like, right? However, since Kelly and I are both branching out slightly with the usual Tribute to Venus night instrumentation, and since I know (boy, am I aware of this when I’m playing!) that there are a significant proportion of guitar players in the audience, I thought I’d give you a brief update on the stringed things producing the noises this Saturday. Here they are:


Aren’t they lovely? From left to right:

The black one with the brown details will be familiar to most Venus-watchers, as it’s become my go-to gig instrument these days. It’s a copy of a famous Ovation model by an outfit called De Ville, and you can read more about my quest to find out this guitar’s origins on my other blog.

At the back is a 12-string Danelectro, on loan from my band leader in Isaac Brutal, Mark Allan. It produces a lovely, chiming sound which immediately wants you to play a Byrds version of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ on it. Instead, we’re using it for one of the new songs to be unveiled at the gig, ‘Coming Around Again.’

Next along is my blues box guitar. We’re using this for a different version of a Venus song I also play with the Brutals, ‘Death in Venice (Rose Tattoo)’. It originated as a ‘make your own blues box guitar’ kit in the Works, of all places, at Xmas, although I’ve since customised it with wine labels and beer mats – partly just because I can, but mainly to block the f-holes, thereby counteracting the feedback problems which are its only vice. If all goes well, you’ll hear a shimmering evocation of the Deep South on Saturday. If things don’t go so well, it’ll howl like a loon.

Last is my LAG 100 ACE.  Although it has a lovely, honeyed, mellow acoustic tone, its inbuilt pickups aren’t great (something I didn’t think of testing before I left the shop). Consequently, it’s only there as a back up. Because you can never have too many guitars, right?

Next time: Kelly’s harmonicas and percussion. Yep, you heard that right!

Leave a comment

Come to our show, help choose the songs for the album, and win a prize!

So. The White Horse has been booked for Saturday, 1st October, the set list has been chosen, and rehearsals have begun. Here’s the thing though – between the gig on 1st October, and the recording sessions for our album at the end of that month, we need to narrow down our own favourite 16 songs to 10 – and that’s where you come in!

Here are the 16:

All I can think of is You
She Sees Round Corners
All the Words
The Prediction
Running song
Icarus Wings
Death in Venice (Rose Tattoo)
Coming Around Again
See what I did there, linking the ones we’ve recorded into what’s on Soundcloud, so you can have a listen to some of them? Mind you, there will be inbuilt weighting against ‘Old School,’ ‘In the Canyon,’ and ‘Highway Tonight,’ because they’re on the EP. Thing is, they’re still amongst our all time favourites!
Some of the tracks, of course, won’t mean much to you – ‘Coming Around Again’ is a new one, and while you might have heard Isaac Brutal do ‘Rose Tattoo,’ you’ve yet to hear the Tribute to Venus version, which was one of those magic moments that happen in the rehearsal room when you try something out for the first time.
So, vote now, or better still, come to our gig at the White Horse, Canongate, at 8 o’clock on Saturday 1st October, and tell us what you think then. IT’S FREE! There’ll be links to the online poll, paper and pens for you old school types, and a prize draw for everyone who’s voted!
Here’s the poll for now:

Leave a comment

Venus Awakes

Things have been quiet on the Venus front since our last gig in May (see pic, with our new backing singer!)

However, while we gather ourselves for more Venus-related activity, the woman herself has resurfaced with a key bit of her life story on her blog. We’ve no idea what happens in between these posts: she’s not a techy type, our heroine, so there’s no social media posting or idle chit-chat: just occasional slices of a life lived on the edges of the conventional.

This post deals with the loss of her father, which going by the Marie Rose reference, must have happened in 1982.

The Marry Rosie

Stupid old bugger. Stupid, stubborn old bugger. He’d retired, two years before; given up the sea as a bad job.

I can just picture him there, standing at the bar in one of the pubs down at the harbour, flat cap pulled over his head, jeans, boots and gansey, the proper fisherman’s jersey Mum still couldn’t get off him; the one that stank of seawater, cigarettes and fish. Hands knotted by arthritis, features carved nut-brown by the wind and weather.

And Peter Thom coming up to him and saying, Davy was laid low, and they were a man short, could he – ?

To read more, go here

Pic: Kenny Mackay

Leave a comment

Venus’s Life Story: The Chicano Moratorium

Funny how some stuff comes around again: with Trump’s rhetoric about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and making the Mexicans pay for it ringing in our ears, here’s the next instalment of Venus’s autobiography, as she tells of an encounter with a lesser known part of the anti-Vietnam movement: the Chicano Moratorium; and how a later classic image from the War inspired her song, ‘Girl in the Picture.’

To read an up to date Guardian article on how the real life girl in the picture is gradually overcoming the scars of that fateful day, follow this.

‘The Chicano Moratorium

The guy looked like a fish out of water. Literally. He was drenched from head to foot. He’d walked up into the Canyons from West Hollywood in the rain.

“You gotta come to this, really,” he said. Water dripped off his Zapata moustache onto the rug. “This is gonna be huge. The biggest anti-Vietnam march in L.A., period. Entiendes?”‘

To read more of Venus’s story, go here


Leave a comment

Venus’s Life Story (as far as we can make out so far…)

So, while Kelly and I work on some new songs which have, yet again, mysteriously turned up at her door by unknown means, I’ve been thinking. Venus’s own blog, which she randomly contributes to, has some tantalising glimpses of her life story: but they’re in no particular order. And I thought it might be easier for everyone to read if they were.

So what I’m going to do is, every week publish the start of one of the blog entries on here, with a link to the rest of it. It’ll be a bit like getting her life story in instalments, but not quite as organised (and we may have to back track if she surfaces again and publishes something out of sequence)

Ready? Here’s the earliest chronological entry I can find on the blog. It’s called ‘Waking Up To Dylan:

Bob Dylan at the Manchester Free Trade Hall, it must have been 1966. Julie and I were 16, for goodness’ sake. We’d made it down from Arbroath, don’t know how. I think we told our folks we were staying with Julie’s sister in Edinburgh or something, but instead we blew everything we’d been saving for a year, and got the train to Manchester. It was the first time either of us had been away from home.

First half of the concert was the Sermon on the Mount for us. Just Dylan, his guitar, and a concert hall full of his charisma. I remember him playing ‘Visions of Johanna,’ and it was like nothing we’d ever heard before. The chords looked simple enough, but the lyrics! How on earth could I remember them? In the interval, I tried writing some of them down on the back of my ticket, with a pencil I’d liberated from school. The ticket wasn’t big enough, of course…

To read more, go here.